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Original Irish Coffee Recipe and History


Irish Coffee Cocktail

Irish Coffee

Steve Allen / Stockbyte / Getty Images

The Irish had the right idea when they combined robust Irish whiskey with hot, black coffee. This hot cocktail has long been a favorite in Irish pubs, with a popularity that could be said to rival Guinness (as tough as that may be). Below the recipe is a little Irish Coffee history.

Beyond choosing the best Irish whiskey possible, using fresh whipped cream can turn the mundane Irish Coffee into something spectacular. Don't forget to preheat your glass by pouring hot water in it while you make the coffee. I also suggest using a French press to make a rich coffee.

View Video: How to Make an Irish Coffee (an adaptation), 5 Easy Coffee Cocktails

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: 1 Cocktail



  1. Pour the sugar then coffee into a warm Irish coffee glass, mug, or other heat-proof stemmed glass.
  2. Stir until dissolved.
  3. Add the Irish whiskey and stir again.
  4. Float the cream on top by pouring it over the back of a spoon. Do not stir again, instead drink the coffee through the cream.

Irish Coffee History

The Irish Coffee was created by Irish chef Joe Sheridan in 1942 at the Foynes airbase (replaced by today's nearby Shannon International Airport) near Limerick, Ireland. The story goes that a flight returned to the airport after attempting to reach New York during a winter storm one evening. Sheridan ran the airport's new restaurant and mixed up the first round of Irish Coffee for the stranded passengers and the name came about with the following exchange...

"Hey Buddy," said a surprised American passenger, "is this Brazilian coffee?" "No," said Joe, "that's Irish Coffee."

The Irish Coffee was a huge success and became a regular drink to have at the airport. In 1952 a travel writer by the name of Stanton Delaplane brought the recipe to the United States, drawing its attention to a bartender of the Buena Vista Hotel in San Francisco by the name of Jack Koeppler. The cream kept sinking when Koeppler tried to make the drink so he traveled to the source to learn the correct way to make this new coffee drink. As the story goes, he ended up offering Joe Sheridan a position in the American Buena Vista Cafe where you can still get a great Irish Coffee.

As witty as the Irish tend to be, this is how Joe Sheridan explained how to make a true Irish Coffee...

Cream - Rich as an Irish Brogue 
Coffee - Strong as a Friendly Hand
Sugar - Sweet as the tongue of a Rogue
Whiskey - Smooth as the Wit of the Land.

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